GIG – Frightened Rabbit at The Wedgewood Rooms – Tuesday 6th December 2016

frightened_rabbitFor Scott Hutchison, the songwriting inspiration can come from anywhere.

From a Scottish sitcom about a larky soldier who’s served in Iraq. A break-up, his own usually – a recurring theme, it seems, judging by the incisive, compelling accounts of heartache sprinkled through Frightened Rabbit’s three previous albums, Sing The Greys (2006), The Midnight Organ Fight (2008) and The Winter Of Mixed Drinks (2010). A shit family Christmas that only got worse come Boxing Day. Or from a room-full of American fans mainlining a long-lost Celtic connection while also hoovering up a powerful British indie-rock band with a folk heart and a soulful love of their heritage. Frightened Rabbit are proudly Scottish, and adored on native soil, but their songs also seem to take on greater resonance and power the further from home they travel.

Ideas might have come on any one of the ten or so US tours undertaken by the band, each bigger, noisier, rowdier, more special than the last – there aren’t many British bands who can match Frightened Rabbit, formed by this thoughtful former art student nine years ago, for the level and intensity of their American success. Or they can come via a hero peer on the Scottish music scene, in this case onetime Arab Strap dipso-poet Aidan Moffat.

Or Hutchison will take inspiration from the shortcomings he himself sees in the songs he wrote for his band’s last album.

“With The Winter Of Mixed Drinks and what I tried to do there…” begins Frightened Rabbit’s founding member and singer, “…and the things about that I didn’t like that I wanted to make better this time… The last record was purposefully open and vague in its imagery. But I wanted to write dense poetic songs again. And that was a kick off into State Hospital.”

Welcome, then, to State Hospital, a rousing, narrative tune, full of intertwining, racing guitar lines, and pulsing round a central image – “her heart beats like a breeze-block, thrown down the stairs” – written by Hutchison from a female perspective.

It serves as the curtain-raiser to a few things. A five-track EP of the same name. Frightened Rabbit’s upcoming fourth album, Pedestrian Verse, due out next year. And to the band’s new relationship with Atlantic, a deal forged eight years after Selkirk native Hutchison started the band with his drummer brother, and after three albums made with respected indie Fat Cat.

“I feel very creatively liberated on Atlantic,” says Hutchison, a man who – with bandmates Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy (guitar, bass), Andy Monaghan (guitar) and Gordon Skene (guitar, keyboards) – has almost a decade’s experience building his band, cultivating a fan-base, improving their chops, and doing these the old-fashioned way: touring.

Earlier this year, the five-piece were ready to make their fourth album. But their producer of choice wasn’t available, and Hutchison was kicking his heels. And that, too, fed into a song. Home From War was partly catalysed by the original pilot for Gary Tank Commander, a Scottish comedy that has gone on to become a cult show north of the border.

“He’s a guy back from Iraq and he’s just bouncing about, he’s got nothing to do, doesn’t know what to do with his life any more. ’Cause he’s been structured and regimented for that amount of time. It’s really funny but I found it quite interesting and sad.”

Suitably inspired, and rather than sit on their hands, in February the band hired a house in Kingussie in the Scottish Highlands, trucking a load of instruments and studio gear up from Glasgow. The then spent three weeks writing and playing and recording and writing and playing some more.

Three songs were immediate keepers: Home From War, inspired by that aimless squaddie, a Pixies-meets-Coldplay giant that’s sure to become a live favourite; Off, an intimate, chorally atmospheric tune written in one quick afternoon; and Wedding Gloves, a yarn about a couple who try to rekindle love by putting digging out and putting on their matrimonial garb. It’s narrated by Moffat, to whom Hutchison entrusted the writing of the verses.

“He totally got what I wanted,” beams Hutchison, who finagled the ex-Arab Strap man’s involvement via drunken, late-night email. “He said to me, ‘right, you want me to be a sexual Yoda?’ I was like, ‘aye, if you like!’”

Come the month of May, and Frightened Rabbit’s producer was finally available. Leo Abrahams was Brian Eno’s assistant for 11 years. So on top of being a great guitar player, he’s a man well-versed in free-thinking. “He was definitely up for shaking things up, and he has plenty of soul and understanding” – all perfect qualities for the band’s new songs and fresh perspective.

A month in Monnow Valley studio in Wales did the job. The EP’s opening two songs, State Hospital and Boxing Day – the latter a mordant yet defiant account of that Yule hell – have been pulled from those sessions.

Only State Hospital will appear on Pedestrian Verse. Hutchison is understandably keeping the just-completed album under wraps for now. But he will say that State Hospital “informed the rest of the album”, and that the bulk of the other songs “have a different atmosphere” from the remaining new songs on the EP. “I don’t know how to describe it… I mean, we did consider them all for the album, but they just didn’t work. But I was really fond of what we got out of those three weeks of creative freedom.”

Next up: an “underplay” tour, in which Frightened Rabbit purposefully slip back down a few rungs on the gig circuit ladder, playing small UK and Irish venues they’ve long since outgrown. For this British band with a huge following across the Atlantic, it’ll be a challenge, but a wholly rewarding one.

It’s just how Hutchison likes to do things – stretching himself, pushing his skills and the band, taking nothing for granted and believing, always, that there’s everything to play for. Why else give an album the title Pedestrian Verse?

“I scribbled that on the front of my notebook on the first day of writing songs for the new album,” he recalls with a smile. “It was like throwing down the gauntlet to myself. Call your album Pedestrian Verse and you just leave yourself open to people going, och, that’s a bit boring… So,” he smiles, “I couldn’t write anything dull.”

With the glorious five-track State Hospital EP, it’s the emphatic start of a job well done.

 

From Band Website

 

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GIG – Pretty Vicious at The Joiners – Wednesday 25th November 2015

PRETTYViciousIt can take some bands years of posting music online to find a fanbase. Not so with Merthyr Tydfil-based rockers Pretty Vicious, who popped a single track, Cave Song, on Soundcloud and the BBC Introducing Uploader last year then sat back with a bag of popcorn and watched everything go bananas. They followed it this year with It’s Always There – released digitally and also on a limited-edition Record Store Day 7″ – and already find themselves on the cusp of a major breakthrough.

You can hear the influence of Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Royal Blood and even Jake Bugg in those astonishingly confident two songs, which have been picked up BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and Radio 1, who playlisted Cave Song and made It’s Always There a Hottest Track In The World. Pretty Vicious – comprised of Brad (lead vocals/guitar), Tom (guitar), Jarvis (bass) and Elliot (drums) – make it all seem so easy, and they’re all still teenagers.

From BBC website

GIG – Against The Current at The Joiners – Sunday 11th October 2015

Against The CurrentAgainst the Current (ATC) started out as a cover band, producing covers of contemporary pop songs from artists such as Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson.

[The band consists of] Chrissy Costanza (lead vocals), Dan Gow (guitars), Will Ferri (drums).

“We started off three years ago as your local garage band,” Costanza says. “We did a cover with Alex Goot and released that on the same day as our album came out. Although people found out about us through our covers, we started writing original music first.”

The first concept video was for the original “Closer, Faster.” September saw the release of the second original video for “Another You, (Another Way).” The storyline has Costanza falling for a bad boy. Costanza keeps in close contact with her fans through vlogs and a lively presence on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. The “Ask Chrissy” vlog can lean toward the bizarre (she reveals her aversion to mustard).

From Clevescene website

GIG – Alvvays at The Joiners – Thursday 25th June 2015

ALVVAYSAlvvays (pronounced “Always”) is a Canadian indie pop band based in Toronto. Their eponymous first album rose to #1 on US college charts on August 5, 2014.

Friends since childhood, Alvvays vocalist Molly Rankin and keyboardist Kerri MacLellan began playing music with Alec O’Hanley while in high school.

Rankin is the daughter of John Morris Rankin of The Rankin Family, a group who enjoyed international success in the 1990s. Molly Rankin released a solo EP titled “She EP” in 2010 and then formed Alvvays with MacLellan, O’Hanley (formerly of Two Hours Traffic), and new members Brian Murphy and Phil MacIsaac.

Following tours with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Peter Bjorn and John, the group recorded a full-length album, Alvvays, which was released by Royal Mountain Records (Canada), Polyvinyl Records (US), and Transgressive Records (Europe) in July 2014. Chad VanGaalen, John Agnello, and Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck all contributed to the album’s production.

Simon Vozick-Levinson, writing in Rolling Stone, called the eponymous album an “indie-pop wonder”.

Alvvays went to #1 on US college charts on August 5, 2014.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

GIG – Lemuria at The Joiners – Thursday 4th June 2015

lemuriaLemuria is an American indie/punk rock band from Buffalo, New York, who were formed in 2004. by drummer/vocalist Alex Kerns, guitarist/vocalist Sheena Ozzella, and bassist Adam Vernick.

The trio began writing songs and released a five song demo, recorded at Watchmen Recording Studios, which started a long term relationship with engineer Doug White. After a handful of shows, and the release of the (now rare) Lemuria demo, the group parted ways with Vernick, and in March 2005, Jason Draper stepped in to join on bass.

The line-up of Lemuria featuring Alex, Sheena, and Jason went on to record many singles, splits, and 7″ records. The majority of the early releases, including the demo, s/t 7″, Lemuria/Frame split, AOTU Single Series, and “You’re Living Rooms All Over Me”, were all released (or co-released) by Art Of The Underground, an indie record label owned and operated by Alex Kerns.[7]

In 2007, after years of touring, the band remarked that never recording a full length album had given them time “to grow and to “find our sound.””.The band once again returned to Watchmen Recording Studios and began working on their first record, later titled Get Better and released on Asian Man Records.

Lyrically, with the exception of the songs written by Sheena and Jason, the album took a much darker tone than previous works, as many of Alex Kern’s lyrics were written dealing with the recent death of his father. Musically, however, the songs were bright and ‘uplifting’ as a result of the band and Alex’s attitude. All these things led to and helped in titling the record Get Better.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

PLAYLIST – Most Played 2014 – #7 – ‘Are You Okay’ by Dum Dum Girls

dum dum girlsDum Dum Girls is an American rock band, formed in 2008. It began as the bedroom recording project of lead singer and songwriter Dee Dee Penny (aka Kristin Welchez) in Los Angeles. She is currently based in New York City. The name is a double homage to The Vaselines’ album Dum Dum and the Iggy Pop song “Dum Dum Boys”. Many people believe Dee Dee Penny’s stage name was inspired by Dee Dee Ramone but she has stated this isn’t true.

Dee Dee’s first release under the Dum Dum Girls moniker was a five-song CDr on her own label, Zoo Music, in late 2008. It was followed by an EP on Captured Tracks and a 7″ on HoZacShe quickly gained attention with these releases and signed to Sub Pop in July 2009.

Dum Dum Girls’ debut album, I Will Be, was released in March 2010 and was well-received by critics. Pitchfork described the songs as “genuine earworms, both unfailingly hip and often wonderfully associative”. Penny produced the record with Richard Gottehrer, who had previously worked with Richard Hell, Blondie, The Go-Gos, and The Raveonettes. Gottehrer also co-wrote the early 1960s hit songs “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “I Want Candy”. The record included guest guitarists Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs on “Yours Alone,” Dee Dee’s husband Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles on “Blank Girl,” and Andrew Miller on multiple tracks. The cover of the album featured a college snapshot of Penny’s mother, who died from cancer in 2010. After its release, she assembled a touring band, and their first shows were in support of Girls.

In 2011, the band released the He Gets Me High EP, which included a cover of “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths. This record marked the addition of Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes to the production team, which Dee Dee has kept intact.

Second album Only in Dreams was released in September 2011, featuring the singles “Coming Down” and “Bedroom Eyes,” the latter of which Dum Dum Girls performed on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. This album was the only Dum Dum Girls recording to feature the full band.

In September 2012, the EP End of Daze was released, preceded by the single “Lord Knows” on July 31, 2012, which Pitchfork awarded “Best New Track”. The EP received “Best New Music” from Pitchfork as well.

Dee Dee has also collaborated on a number of musical projects. As The Mayfair Set, a duo with Mike Sniper of Blank Dogs, she released an eponymous single followed by the Young One 12″ EP, both in 2009. She and Tamaryn released a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain song “Teenage Lust” in 2011 under the name Les Demoniaques. Also that year, Dee Dee, Sniper and of J.B. Townsend of Crystal Stilts recorded a one-sided 7″ single, “Faraway Friend,” under the name Zodiacs, which was given away via Captured Tracks mailorder. Most recently, Dee Dee and her husband released a 2013 single, “Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good,” as Haunted Hearts. In 2013, Dee Dee composed the opening theme for the animated series Beware the Batman.

On October 31, 2013, Dum Dum Girls announced the third full-length album Too True, set for release on January 28, 2014 and featuring the single “Lost Boys & Girls Club”, whose video premiered with H&M on October 31, 2013. For this album, Dee Dee Penny cited Suede, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Madonna, and The Stone Roses as her influences.

The Dum Dum Girls single “Coming Down” was used for a promotional teaser trailer and can be heard in the end credits for the 2013 film The Canyons, written by Bret Easton Ellis and directed by Paul Schrader. Because the filmmakers used their song as a sort of “theme” for the film, Dee Dee approached Ellis to script a music video for their single “Are You Okay” that was released in 2014.

PLAYLIST – Most Played 2014 – #8 – ‘Heebie Jeebies’ by The Rifles

riflesThe Rifles are an English indie rock band from Chingford, London.

Their debut album No Love Lost was released on 17 July 2006 and reached No. 68 in the UK charts. Their follow up album, Great Escape, was released on 26 January 2009 and came in at No. 27 in the UK charts. Their third album Freedom Run was released on 19 September 2011 reaching No. 37 in the UK

The band currently consists of Joel Stoker (vocals, guitar), Lucas Crowther (guitar, vocals), Rob Pyne (bass guitar), Grant Marsh (drums) and Dean Mumford (keyboard).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia